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John B Watson carried out a great deal of different experiments in order to prove the major ideas of his theory. It is known that he was against introspective methods and wanted to restrict psychology to experimental methods. One of the most famous experiments is The Little Albert Experiment. The main goal of the psychologist was to prove the fact that emotional reactions could be classically conditioned in human beings. The main participant of this experiment was a child Albert of nine months age. The child was exposed to a number of stimuli which included a white rat, a monkey, a rabbit, masks and burning paper. John Watson observed the boy’s reactions. At first, the boy did not show any fear when he saw the objects. However, when the psychologist made a loud noise, the child began to cry. Finally, when the rat was shown without noise, the boy began to cry. This experiment showed how classical conditioning is used to condition response of the individual. (Watson & Rayner 1920)
EXPLANATION OF JOHN B. WATSON’S QUOTE CONCERNING HIS APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGY
In the article Psychology as the Behaviorist Views of It, John B. Watson states that the process of classical conditioning can easily explain all the major aspects of psychology. Watson rejects the existence of consciousness and mind and considers that all types of human behavior take place due to different learning experiences of the individual.
In other words, different behavioral aspects of the individual depend on different environmental factors of the individual’s upbringing. That is why John B. Watson paid special attention to the infant temperament. The example of this fact is his experiment with little Albert. His famous quote gives an opportunity to realize that environment plays an important role in the personality formation: “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even a beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talent, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors”.
He is sure that it is possible to shape a certain type of personality if environmental factor is taken into consideration. If environmental factor is not taken into consideration and does not play any role in the further development of the individual’s behavior and character, then the twins should be the same in all respects including profession, character and behavior. However, according to the numerous studies, the twins can never be the same in their further development. They have different traits of character, they choose different professions. So, John B. Watson’s approach concerning the study of psychology is based on the fact that psychology is a science of observable behavior of the individuals. He wrote: “Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness”.(Watson 1913)
EVALUATION OF WATSON’S APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF PSYCHOLOGY
The views of Watson concerning psychology and child’s upbringing are criticized by many psychologists. It is known that Suzanne Houk (2000) writes in her article Psychological Care of Infant and Child: A Reflection of its Author and his Times that Watson’s methods of upbringing are not correct and that environmental factor cannot influence the development of child’s personality although its role is also important.
Another psychologist R. Nance (1990) writes in her article Stanly Hall and John Watson as Child Psychologists that Watson was influenced by his personal difficult upbringing and severe environmental factors as he was born in a poor family that always had a lot of troubles including low incomes of parents, abandonment by his father and others. That is why she cannot agree with his views concerning personality formation. She thinks that genetic factor also plays an important role.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that John B. Watson’s approach to the study of psychology should be taken into consideration by any psychologist or psychotherapist because a lot of his ideas are true. He states that psychology is the science of behavior and that the major goal of any psychologist is to describe the individual’s behavior in terms of stimuli and response. Moreover, behaviorism can help to predict response if the stimuli is known, or to predict the stimuli if response is known. One more important fact is that John B. Watson does not consider that genetics plays an important role in personality formation. He also disregards innate personality predispositions and individual’s capacities. Moreover, he is sure that any newborn child is a blank slate for him, and that he can mold him into any type of personality in case he will give him appropriate conditioning experiences.
Moore, J. 2010. Philosophy of Science, With Special Consideration given to behaviorism as the Philosophy of science of Behavior. The Psychological Record. January 1, 2010.
Watson, J. B. 1913. Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It. Psychological Review, 20(1).
Watson, J.B. & Rayner, R. 1920. Conditioned Emotional Reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3(1).
Nance, R. D. 1990. Stanly Hall and John Watson as child psychologists. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 6(4)
Houk, S. (2000). Psychological Care of Infant and Child: A Reflection of its Author and his Times. Retrieved November 30, 2009